Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Native American Agriculture Fund announces 2019 grantmaking commitments


December 19, 2019

The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) is honored to announce our 2019 grantmaking commitments to further the success of Native farming and ranching. NAAF was created in 2018 as a twenty-year spend-down private, charitable trust as part of the settlement of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack litigation. NAAF is focused solely on improving the success of Native farmers and ranchers. NAAF is authorized to fund grants to four entity types: non-profit organizations, educational organizations, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Tribal governments for the purpose of promoting our mission areas of business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy to bolster Native food and agriculture in our communities.

NAAF takes pleasure in announcing our 2019 grant funding commitments today. Over 80 projects will be funded for a total commitment of $10 million. The projects are funded across all four types of eligible entities and cover activities in each of the four mission areas NAAF supports. Funds are being used to catalyze Native-led organizations working within Native communities. Many projects strike at the core of the issues that led to creation of NAAF: access to credit to support Native agriculture.

Several grants support efforts of Native-led organizations to provide capital for business loans to Native American producers; other grants support educational scholarships to encourage the growth of the next generation of agriculture leaders. Many grants support innovative, community-led work towards ensuring that food sovereignty and traditional foods flourish within Native communities and are not lost to future generations. Some projects will analyze the potential for investment in emerging food and fiber markets in ways that will stabilize Native producers and their communities. Still other projects are designed to support value-added agriculture activities and assist producers in finding new markets for their products. A full listing of all 2019 grants will be made available on the NAAF website at in the weeks to come. A few examples are provided below:

San Xavier District of Tohono O’odham Nation – Tucson, AZ

The San Xavier District is focused on increasing access to fresh, healthy food in their community by promoting agricultural production. NAAF funding will support the development of a local food marketplace that celebrates traditional foods and opens the door for business opportunities. Native farmer and rancher outreach and education is a key component of their value-added approach.

University of North Carolina at Pembroke – Pembroke, NC

The Thomas Center Entrepreneurship HUB at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke serves the community by helping start-ups and small businesses start and grow into successful companies. Located in Robeson County, NC – the home of the Lumbee Tribe – they provide specialized agricultural technical assistance and professional support for small and beginning Native farmers. NAAF support will allow UNCP to increase education for agricultural entrepreneurs, research the feasibility of industrial hemp production in the area, and develop a summer outreach program designed to help youth explore careers in farming and agribusiness.

Modoc Nation – Miami, OK

Agriculture has always been a central theme for the Modoc people. Over the last 20 years, the Tribe has provided Native ranchers with hands-on job training, agricultural education and technical assistance in the specialty field of bison ranching. With NAAF funding, the Modoc Nation will expand service to Native farmers (at least half of whom will be young farmers), teaching them to farm fish and plants in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). The project will also incorporate reclaiming of traditional food knowledge and hemp production analysis.

Rosebud Economic Development Corporation – Mission, SD

REDCO’s mission is to foster and promote economic development for the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, and they have a history of providing a broad range of supportive services to Native farmers and ranchers across the Rosebud Indian Reservation. With funding from NAAF they will train beginning farmers and engage youth through an incubator farm, increase access to credit through their CDFI, study organic industrial hemp production feasibility and determine viability for a USDA certified meat processing facility.

Lummi Community Development Financial Institution – Bellingham, WA

Lummi CDFI offers a trusted, safe place for tribal members who are considering entrepreneurship, building a business and/or strengthening their credit by providing access to education, financing and asset growth. Funding from NAAF will allow them to offer technical assistance and financial tools specifically to Native fishers, divers and harvesters of seafood products.


The projects funded during this inaugural year are located throughout the United States, literally touching every region, and will have ripple effects that will magnify each project’s work well outside the original intended audience through connections between and among Native communities and organizations.

“This very first round of applications gave us a glimpse of the huge potential there is to make a significant impact in access to credit for Native farmers and ranchers”, said Elsie Meeks who serves as chairwoman of the NAAF Board of Trustees. Sherry Salway Black, chair of the NAAF Program Committee adds: “It is so rewarding to see the number of efforts across the country and the breadth and depth of the work. And this is just the beginning”.

Janie Hipp, CEO of NAAF, states: “NAAF joins with all Native food communities - - through working with farmers, ranchers or fishers - - in seeking a future where our food economies are thriving, our people are healthy and our contributions to the food and agriculture community at large is celebrated. We look forward to supporting new applicants for funding in the years to come and join with you to celebrate this initial round of NAAF grantees.”

Porter Holder, an original named plaintiff in the Keepseagle litigation that led ultimately to the creation of NAAF observed: “Each time we provide funding for a project that will support Native farmers and ranchers, we are ensuring that our children and grandchildren will be supported in their own contributions to agriculture in the years to come.” Joe Sellers, the lead counsel in the Keepseagle litigation shared: “The grants funded this year are exactly what we hoped could result from creation of NAAF: a focus on ensuring the future success of Native farmers and ranchers.”

Additional information concerning the 2019 grantees can be found in the coming weeks on the NAAF website: or by contacting NAAF at

The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) is a charitable trust created by the settlement of the landmark Keepseagle v Vilsack class-action lawsuit. NAAF is the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native farming and ranching community.


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